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Lobsang Sangay sworn in as Tibet’s PM-in-exile

August 08
03:16 2011

The Dalai Lama holds hands with Lobsang Sangay (L), the elected prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and outgoing prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche before today's swearing-in ceremony in Dharamsala

DHARAMSALA: Harvard scholar Lobsang Sangay was today sworn in as the new Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, succeeding the Dalai Lama as the movement’s political leader.

43-year old Sangay, who replaces Samdong Rimpoche as Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of Tibetan Central Administration, was administered oath by Ngawang Phelgyal, the Chief Justice Commissioner, at a public function presided over by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Over 5,000 Tibetans, including community leaders settled outside Tibet and India, braved heavy showers to witness the ceremony.

In his brief speech, the 76-year-old Dalai Lama expressed his gratitude to the Tibetans in exile for participating in the democratic process by electing the Kalon Tripa and members of the Tibetan parliament.

“We have handed over all political responsibilities and all the powers now vest in democratically-elected leadership of Lobsang Sangay,” the Dalai Lama said in his speech in Tibetan language.

The Dalai Lama remains the spiritual head of the Tibetans.

A senior fellow of Harvard Law School, Sangay steps into the shoes of 73-year-old monk-scholar Samdhong Rinpoche, who was elected twice as Kalon Tripa and held the post for the past 10 years.

Rinpoche, in his address both in Tibetan and English languages said, “This is a new chapter in Tibetan history and a joint step towards a genuine democracy.”
Recalling the sacrifices made by his elders, Sangay in his first speech said, “I am here not because of my personal achievement but as a result of the hard work and sacrifices made by older generations in Tibet and in exile and today I pledge to carry forward and build upon the great legacy of our elders”.

Thubten Samphel, a spokesperson for the government-in-exile, said Sangay took oath at an auspicious time decided by him at 9 am, nine minutes and nine seconds and it was a great event attended by the Tibetan Diaspora settled across the globe, including Taiwan, Japan, Belgium, Mongolia and Nepal.

Sangay is the first elected prime minister to shoulder the political and administrative responsibilities which were earlier carried out by the Dalai Lama.

With legacy of the Dalai Lama behind him, the new Kalon Tripa has a daunting task to measure up to the expectations of Tibetan people and win the trust of the people.

The Dalai Lama had shocked Tibetan people by announcing his decision to relinquish all responsibilities and confine himself only to the spiritual role in his address on Tibetan uprising day on March 10 and formally conveyed the decision to Tibetan Assembly of Deputies on March 15.

The Dalai Lama, who had taken refuge in India after fleeing Tibet in 1959, spurned all requests to reconsider his decision and directed the assembly to suitably amend the Tibetan Charter to pave for transition of political powers to a democratically-elected leadership.

The elected members of 15th Tibetan assembly had taken oath on May 30. -PTI

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